Archive for the ‘ Raiding ’ Category

Every day we’re raidin’ and raidin’…

Quick update on our raid progression, since I’ve been lax about updating on it: the hunter became the hunted, and Shannox went down… And earlier this evening, we got Beth down ^_^. This was, of course, after my healer yelled, “Stop plundering the Beth’s hole!” many, many times. But that’s besides the point! We had fun, and that’s what mattered.

On a side note, we did a BoT run afterwards, that consisted of three PUGs, a guildie who hadn’t done the raid at all, and a guildie tank who’d DPSed all the bosses but only tanked up until the Ascendant Council. In the end, we cleared the place with no wipes ^_^. Sure, we had a death or two, but I was VERY proud of my folks for clearing everything as cleanly as they did.

Until next time!

Status report, Mr. Spock – also, how do I use this cooldown?

I’m aware I haven’t posted here in what feels like forever, but that’s just the way things are, I’m afraid. I’m not the kind of blogger who can assure you they’ll have something to rant about at least once a week. I’m steadfastly dedicated to ensuring this blog stays on the topic of World of Warcraft, with possible deviations for other related MMOs, so if I’m not feeling the “itch” to talk about something, then there’s only so much I can put here.

To recap what’s happened between then and now, we’ve successfully crossed the bridge into the realm of 4.2 – aka, the Firelands. Far Riders successfully downed Cho’gall pre-patch, and on our first day post-patch, we downed Nefarian and Al’akir (despite it being our first attempt at Al’akir at all). On our last raid night, we got the pat from hell (also known as Shannox, I hear… but I prefer my name for him) down to somewhere in the neighborhood of 1-2mil HP. I admittedly wasn’t paying his health as much mind as I was systematically popping all the cooldowns I had for myself to level out any incoming damage and to reduce the likelihood of catastrophic death for my companions. I obviously didn’t succeed in that regard ^_^’

How exactly do I use cooldowns?

But the “systematic popping” of my cooldowns brings me to a topic that’s been bugging me lately. I’ve recently been assisting a guildie with their tankadin alt, and on several occasions, the topic of rotation for both spells and cooldowns came up. I gave her my opinions relating to spell rotation (and also pointed her to Rhidach’s site, since he was a big help to me when I first began as a paladin tank), and in regards to cooldowns, I provided a simple answer: “Just be sure you’re not using Ancient Kings and Divine Prot at the same time.” In reality, the truth is much more complex, and the proper use of cooldowns can make or break you as a pally tank. In my personal opinion, the sheer variety of CDs we have is what makes us the most versatile tank on the market, but too often, I see folks using these skills post-damage instead of in anticipation of a huge hit. This article sums up the topic I feel, but to put it in my own words, we have the toughest job in the raid: being clairvoyants. We need to know the fight, and I mean know it well! While there will always be a degree of flexibility to fights, thanks to our good friend RNG, there’s an underlying flow to how fights work, and tankadins need to use that to pick where there CDs will have the most effect, and then put them into play.

A good example (that most people know by now, I’m sure) is Nefarian’s Electrocute – otherwise known as “crackle.” The activation of this ability is easy to anticipate, as long as your raid’s dps is steady, and there are numerous things pally tanks can do to help their healers out here. For the raid itself, we have Divine Guardian, and while 20% doesn’t seem like much, you can easily prevent ~25k damage to your nearby raiders; this naturally requires some positioning on the tank’s part, but that’s half the job, I’m afraid. For ourselves, we again have Divine Protection, but more importantly we have Ancient Kings. Like I mentioned above, the key is to NOT use these abilities together, as their damage reduction doesn’t stack. And while many tankadins would argue that we should be using Divine Prot on CD, I’d argue this isn’t the case in some fights. Following the example of Nefarian, it can be awfully tempting to use the ability on CD for many portions of the fight, but you can smooth out your incoming damage (and make your healer’s life easier!) if you focus it’s use. I tank Ony in phase 1, and I find the best time to use Divine Prot is for her breath attack and/or when you have her turned for her lightning attack. The breath is massive damage and during the turn, it can be more difficult for your healer to keep you up, so using this CD for either will help them immensely. Another applicable CD for the breath, if you have the correct trinket, is to pop your Mirror. This provides a large magic resistance boost, which can easily be the difference between life and death, if the situation is dire.

Paladins also have several abilities that many wouldn’t inherently call a “cooldown” but can certainly serve in that capacity, given the right situation. One such ability is Avenger’s Shield, due to it’s interrupt capability. Yes, we still have Rebuke, which should be our “go to” interrupt, but on fights where interrupts are important and interruptable spells occur often, we need to manage when we use AS. Cho’gall’s Conversion is an excellent example of this because most of the classes that have long range interrupts don’t have one that has a measly 15sec cooldown (less, if Grand Crusader procs). Besides the interrupt ability, we also need to be sure to use a grand crusader proc’d shield AFTER we use Crusader Strike/Hammer of the Righteous. After all, if you miss with CS/HotR, then you’ll get no holy power but can fill the 3sec gap with the AS (which gives you holy power even if you miss, or so I’ve seen). If you used the AS first and followed with a missed CS/HotR, then you’ll have 3sec that you have to fill with a non-HP generating ability.

Word of Glory is another spell that many wouldn’t consider a cooldown; in fact, many paladins felt it was nothing but a nerf, when Blizzard added the 20sec cooldown. Although I do agree that it nerfed are ability to be an “off-healer,” I want to point out that this makes it much more important to manage when we use the skill. If you know that a big hit’s coming up, then can use WoG; even if you’re at full health, you’ll put a shield on yourself thanks to Guarded by the Light.

Divine plea serves as a two-fold cooldown. It replenishes our mana, which is the same use it has for ret and holy paladins, but as prot, we have a bonus use thanks to Shield of the Templar: it’s a holy power cooldown. When fully spec’d into Templar, we get 3 holy power from activating Plea. What does this mean? If you need mana, then you should aim to use Plea when you have no holy power, giving you the maximum benefit of the HP gain – that saves you from having to generate it through CS/HotR/AS!

The most recent addition to our arsenal of cooldowns is the controversial Holy Shield. Patch 4.2 changed this from being a buff activated by CS and HotR (also WoG, if you specced into it) to being an activated CD. This article covers the topic expertly, but the quick and dirty explanation is to use this in the same way I mentioned above with Divine Protection. Although you CAN use it every 30sec, I’d argue the best method is to use it when you anticipate heavy physical damage coming up.

Last but certainly not least, we have Ardent Defender – aka, the “OH S#&%” button. This ability mirrors Divine Protection, but it’s added twist of saving you from a near-death experience means you should NOT treat it the same. The trick here is, once again, to anticipate how the fight works and to pop this ability when you know you’re about to die. Falling back to the example of Nef’s crackle, then you should use this ability if you know for a fact that Electrocute will kill you. Be sure to alert the healers that you used the ability (use a macro, call it out in Vent/Mumble, etc), so they know they don’t have to use their own CDs in an effort to keep alive through the crackle.

To sum it all up, tankadins have the cooldowns to survive nearly any bad situation, but we can’t use them effectively if we don’t know when to use them. Learn the fights by heart, know their ups and downs, and you’ll be an unstoppable force.

Wait, there’s more?

The other issue I see some paladins making (not just tanks, but holy and ret pallies as well) is the proper use of their seal. No one seal is a catch all, and like our cooldowns, having the right seal up is a matter of knowing each seal’s strengths and weaknesses. So, in the interest of helping my fellow pally tanks, here are the seals I use and when I use them:

  • Seal of Truth: The single target threat seal. Use this seal when you need sustained aggro on a single target. When this seal is glyphed, it’ll also add 10 expertise to your stats. This is one of the highest stat gains you’ll ever get from ANY seal, so unless you’re expertise capped and don’t need it (which I would argue you shouldn’t be, but that’s another topic altogether), then you should look into this glyph.
  • Seal of Righteousness: The multi-target threat seal. This seal works with any melee attack, which includes the physical component of HotR. Also, it works with seal of truth’s glyph as well, meaning it still grants the bonus 10 expertise.
  • Seal of Insight: The mana seal. This one is often overlooked or used incorrectly, so I want to clear the air here. If you’re starting to get low on mana, then the first thing you need to do is use judgment in a blank spot between HP-generating abilities, regardless of the rest of your rotation (never use it in place of CS/HotR though!). Next, you should use Divine Plea, both for the mana regen and the instant Holy Power. However! If you’re still low on mana after all of this, then swap seals to Insight (again, you’ll want to wait until you’re between HP-generating attacks like CS/HotR). Using judgment with this seal active restores MASSIVE amounts of mana, and you’ll be near full mana again in no time. Once you’re in an acceptable mana range, then return to either Truth/Righteousness as applicable.
  • Seal of Justice: I can’t think of any situations for dungeons/raids that you’ll want to use this seal as a tank. The few situations where you’re tanking only one add will usually be hindered by the add being slowed. Cho’gall’s Corrupting Adherent, for example, needs to get to the back of the room (or wherever your raid leads them) fairly quickly, so using Justice would be a bad idea.
As I said before, never switch seals in place of CS/HotR. Holy power is invaluable, so you’ll never want to lose a chance to get it! Otherwise, the key here is assessing the situation you’re in and picking an appropriate seal.
Good luck!
If you have any questions about anything I’ve written here or about something I failed to address, then please feel free to email me or leave a comment. I’ll answer as soon as I’m able!

Nefarian! You are not prepared!

Woohoo! Tonight, Far Riders completed two progression kills: Maloriak followed by Atramedes! Maloriak went down rather quickly, taking somewhere in the neighborhood of 3-4 attempts. Atramedes… took longer (/cough 20-25 attempts? /cough). We suffered from every kind of minor mistake from standing to close to the boss (harder to dodge the sound discs), to forgetting which way to run (Me in vent: “If he targets you, you run clockwise… Like a clock. If not, then run counter-clockwise… Unlike a clock), to getting caught on imaginary steps while running from the fire breath in air phase (that was me – I swear, there was nothing there!). Regardless, I was very proud of the guild tonight. We made some serious progress! We spent our remaining time killing off Halfus and the Twins for the sake of gear, but next week, Nefarian is going down!

Shockingly enough, I remembered to take a guild photo of our kill of Atramedes /gasp! Totally forgot to do one for Maloriak, but considering I also forgot to grab one for the other 6 bosses we’ve killed… I’m not surprised.

What? He was handicapped? ... The kill still counts!


My apologies for the delay in posts. My guildmaster and I have been dealing with issues within the guild for awhile now, but tensions reached a peak over this past week. On top of that, my university’s spring break was this past week, conveniently at the same time as the release of Pokemon Black and Dragon Age II (/cough DA2 is awesome /cough).

All of that aside! I’ve been inspired to continue in the footsteps of Idkittens, a blogger over at Sword and Board. I first started tanking as a full-time job when Cata hit the servers (prior to that, I did it as my off-spec), and whenever I had issues with a particular boss in a regular or heroic dungeon, I consulted the tanking cheat sheets posted by Idkittens. I continued the trend of following the advice posted on Sword and Board when my guild first began to do the cata raid content, and I was deeply saddened by the fact that only three were posted (Halfus, Magmaw, and Omnitron).

So… Since I found the advice in those posts so informative, I’m going to follow the trend and do some similar posts here. I don’t intend to do anything Idkittens already posted – just continue where the posts stopped. Look forward to those coming out sometime soon!

And on a quick side-note: Far Riders currently has 5/12 down. Halfus, Valiona and Theralion, Magmaw, Omnitron, and Chimaeron (and Argaloth, if you count him). Maloriak is the next intended target – we’ll see what the week holds!

I’ve a work in progress upcoming, detailing the methods I use for tanking

/failcheck: Mitigation and Expertise Caps

There’s been a lot of forum posts about this and/or related topics, but today, I’m posting to say that I’ve actually managed to meet the mitigation and expertise cap simultaneously =D. Thanks to the Porcelain Crab trinket I acquired recently and copious amounts of testing various reforgings with test dummies, I officially have the following mitigation stats: 11.58% (dodge) + 11.61% (parry) + 53.5% (block) + 5% (base miss chance) + 21.47% (extra block from porcelain crab’s mastery proc) = 103.16% mitigation (the cap is 102.5%). When I first equipped and used my crab (doesn’t that sound wrong?), I was actually in the 106-107 range, so I cancelled any reforging of hit to dodge/parry, then based on the information at Elitist Jerks that expertise is the most important stat after mit cap, I reforged my hit to expertise. I was able to manage 16 expertise, so by using Glyph of Seal of Truth, I can reach the expertise cap of 26 as well!

In the couple of heroic runs I’ve done since reaching this goal (I haven’t had a raid yet, since I’ve had to perform in three concerts this week, preventing me from going), I’ve noticed that I seem to be taking in less damage overall, but it’s hard to tell, since I don’t maintain logs of my damage intake.  However, I do remember that I pulled just under 8k in regards to damage, which is between 1.5-2k better than previously, so that’s a very clear improvement. I would probably be taking less damage, if I were using Seal of Light still, but I’ve been using Truth to keep up 26 exp. Overall, I’m very pleased with where I am stat-wise, and I thought I’d pass on my results to you all!

Quick screenshot of Neh at (technically, just above) the blockcap.

Blackrock Schmackrock

No, the title doesn’t really make sense, and also, my apologies for my silence lately. There hasn’t been much to talk about! Lol. Well, that’s not entirely true – just nothing I wanted to talk about in a blog, really.

This week’s raids for Far Riders started off relatively uneventful. After a week of raider troubles last week, we hit Bastion this Thursday with a good stride, easily plowing throw trash and Halfus alike, but ran into some issues with the Twins and one of our two regular healers having a power outage. We ended up calling it relatively early, and a friend and I had fun on a bun with arena.

We came back today (Saturday), cleared Argaloth, and made our way to BWD. We quickly dealt with the local worm infestation, loot was doled out, and we began working on our progression in BWD with the Tron Council, since we were already there (fly to Bastion? too lazy!). After some work (5-7 tries?), we finally nailed the buggers, but just barely, considering only four people were left alive. The reason for this was simple, actually: Ang, my fellow tank, died to a poison add at the last minute. Hell broke loose because despite my throwing a taunt at Toxitron, he gleefully continued to roll over the faces of my fellow raiders. Luckily, I managed to regain control just long enough for the DPS to kill them off the second after I died. /insert manic grin here o_O

At this point, we were already in BWD, so I polled everyone using the fabled readycheck poll to figure out who wanted to do what: continue in BWD or go down the Twins. The majority wanted to stay, so we delved deeper into Netharion’s little hell hole. Enix, our paladin healer, was the first to reach the elevator, and he jumped over the edge and after a quick bubble, trotted up to the trash. Now, apparently Ang didn’t notice that Enix bubble jumped because he walked right off the edge – and promptly died. Our rogue laughed at him, jumped over as well, and used his parachute – which resulted in him swimming in molten magma. Needless to say, big “lolz” were had ^_^. We quickly made our way up to Chimaeron, and after rushing through a rough and dirty explanation of the mechanics, gave the fight a whirl.

To make a long story short, many deaths occurred, more explanations were given (since we didn’t explain it right the first time; whoops), Ang died after falling off the elevator again (Elevator boss – 2 | Ang – 0), and we ended up calling it a night after about 5-6 attempts. I can’t remember for certain, but I believe our best attempt was approaching 50%, but most of them ended up in the 60% neighborhood. It was a very good night for raiding, and I couldn’t have been prouder of us killing the Tron Council, despite Ang’s close encounter of the poison kind. Chalk one up to the laidback raiding!

At one point, Ang decided to test the merits of tanking as a plant. This didn't last long =P

Magmaw no mo’

In another successful raid night, we downed Magmaw last night. We used the same setup that I described from last time: myself tanking the giant worm o’ death, Ang kiting the parasites, and everyone else grouped up on the other side of Magmaw. We used hero on the very first “exposed” phase, where Mag’s got his head stuck on the pike. For those paladin tanks who may be interested, I did some seal swapping at regular intervals during this fight (I minor glyphed both Truth and Insight, to help with mana).

I started the fight with Truth active, then after establishing a good aggro lead, swapped for Insight. While I can’t remember if I looked at recount or not after the fight, I do remember feeling like that was helping contribute to keeping my health up. Once I was pulled into his mouth (go go gadget chewtoy?), I switched back to Truth. Now, this portion of the encounter has some fun tank damage on it, but at that point, the tank has access to Magmaw’s head instead of his body, so by popping CDs reguarly, I was able to pump out some nice dps here. I kept Truth after being dropped, and after Mag freed himself (and I established another aggro lead) it was rinse repeat.

We went on to fight with the “Tron Council,” and we had mixed success. This was mainly due to us needing to replace DPS twice due to internet issues, meaning fresh folks (no one we brought in had done it before then) were being mixed in intermittently. We almost downed them at one point (I believe they got down to 4%), but I was single tanking by that point due to Ang dying, so we weren’t able to make it, ultimately. We’ll be continuing on Thursday again, so stay tuned! Well, as “tuned” as you can be to a blog o.O

Twins Valiona and Theralion Down

After having fun pulling together a raid again (/sigh), myself, my fellow Far Riders, and our one PUG flew ourselves over to Bastion and proceeded to have some good ol’ fashioned trash wipes. Ahaha. Despite the initial difficulties, we fought our way over to Halfus and found we had the Slate, Nether, and Storm drakes this week. Initially it was suggested to release Slate and Nether, with our DK tank (Angimar) on the drakes and myself on Halfus, but that wasn’t working well for us. Per a guildie’s suggestion, I tried kiting Halfus to drop the healing debuff, but this quickly proved ineffective. We finally worked out that we should be releasing Nether and Storm instead, and I flip-flopped with our DK, since my main mitigation is blocks which allow the debuff to continue to stack. Within an attempt or two, we had Halfus down, loot was distributed, and we proceeded onwards.

We blew through the trash before the Twins, and after a quick recap of fight mechanics and placement from our raid strategist (not an official title, but that’s really what he does ^_^’), we began chipping away at their health. I can neither remember the exact number of attempts nor methods we worked through, but we finally downed the dragons (just barely, but we did it) despite our melee heavy setup. We had three melee, plus Angimar (he switched specs for this fight, since it only needs one tank on 10man – not sure about 25man), and two ranged dps, so we used this method:

During Valiona’s ground phase, I tanked Valiona, and the four melee stood at the four corners of her massive hit box, leaving 10yd range all around. The ranged and healers stayed nearby, and for Blackout, everyone except myself ran to the tail of the dragon. Naturally, we got out of harm’s way when Devouring Flames was being cast. When Theralion was on the ground, I again tanked with melee stacking on me and the ranged/healers forming their own clique (heh ^_^’) behind the dragon. This resulted in almost all (if not all) void zones being cast on the ranged group, who simply moved in a clockwise circle around the boss, leaving the melee and myself to wail upon the dragon. When Valiona came charging through with her deep breaths, we moved as a group to dodge. Eventually, the Twins went down, more loot was distributed, and we decided to head over to BWD and put in some time on Magmaw.

After the trash was cleared, Ang went frost again, and using his specially setup spec (Chilblains + Glyph of Howling Blast, I believe), he kited the parasites that spawn during the fight. For positioning, I was on one side of Magmaw’s spike, and everyone else was piled in on the other side, with Ang running around with his parasite buddies. After having initial difficulties with dying at the end of Magmaw’s Mangle, I realized that it’s possible to use Ardent Defender or Guardian of Ancient Kings so that the length of the ability would fall over the end of Mangle, thus saving myself from a chewy end. The beauty of it though, was that whichever ability you used for the first Mangle would be up in time for the third one, so either ability was always up in time for the next Mangle.

Unfortunately, the PUG healer we had with us for Halfus and the Twins was going to be doing a guild run of BWD the following night, so he was unable to come with us. One of our melee DPS switched toons to his Disc Priest to cover the healing slack, but no one else was available at the time, and since we were so close to the end of our raid time, we decided to simply 9man the fight. As it turns out, we ALMOST got Magmaw down (I believe the last wipe was somewhere around 6% health remaining?), but during our last run, our warlock’s computer decided to shutdown (a proper, full sequence shutdown too – not a “I just lost power,” instant shutdown), so we hit the enrage timer before we could finish the fight. Despite being unable to kill the accursed worm tonight, I know that if we could’ve nearly 9man’d Magmaw (with a dps absent for 2/3 of the fight), then we can definitely down him on our next raid night with 10 raiders.

I’ll continue to keep you posted on Far Riders 10man progression, so stay tuned! Also, if you noticed that we could’ve used a different tactic to make a fight easier, then please leave a comment telling me how. I’ll be sure to keep any suggestions in mind!

Failcheck: Stam or Mastery?

***Note: this article is geared towards paladin tanking, but may be applicable for other tanking classes as well***

One of the main tanking topics that’s still up in the air is how tanks should gem/enchant/reforge. While I’m newer to the tanking field than some of the tank bloggers and numbercrunchers out there, I think this is a prime opportunity for an experiment. The idea is that since the tanking mastery Divine Bulwark provide strong mitigation, it may be wiser to push our gear towards stats like mastery. Unlike dodge and parry, blocks don’t suffer from diminishing returns. Because of this, reforging dodge and parry on your gear into mastery results in more overall mitigation. As a bonus, I’ve noticed that mastery rating tends to result in more overall points than dodge/parry rating does, so this also contributes to greater mitigation.

Currently, I’m using gear that utilizes the following gems: Puissant Dream Emerald in green slots, Defender’s Demonseye in red slots, and Solid Chimera’s Eye (I’m a JC) in blue slots. Prismatic I fill up with what I can, leaning towards the emerald if I’ve already got all three JC gems in my gear. Now! As a quick, brief test, I purchased the recipe for Fractured Chimera’s Eye. As a JC, I found it frustrating that there was little to no information in regards to whether or not it was better to use stam or mastery JC gems, so this is my first test on the matter: I swapped an Emerald for one of my Solid JC gems, then replaced an Emerald that was in a yellow slot (+10 parry rating bonus from Gryphon Rider’s Boots) with one a brand spanking new Mastery JC gem. Here were the results, without Blessing of Kings or any other buff active – just wearing my gear:

Before: 144,217 HP / 10.27% parry / 12.16% dodge / 54.56% block / 81.99% total mitigation

After: 142,509 HP / 10.27% parry / 12.16% dodge / 55.41 % block / 82.84% total mitigation

Conclusion: Trading a Stam JC gem for a Mastery JC gem (aiming for socket bonuses) essentially trades 1,708 HP for a 0.85% mitigation increase.

Now, my blocks stop 31% of damage due to block enchants, so keep that in mind, but what this test ultimately means – in my opinion – is that JC paladin tanks should definitely use Stam JC gems over any Mastery equivalent (nor parry/dodge, since they provide less mitigation than mastery does). Does this mean we should not gem for mastery at all? I doubt this is the case, but whenever I can arranged for the funds to test this theory, I will. Until then, I hope this brief experiment will help you choose how to spend those hard earned Illustrious Jewelcrafter’s Tokens!

Too many raiders!

Brief post today: my GM and I are currently attempting to organize a second 10man raid for our guild, since there seems to be enough raid interest to sustain it, if a couple of us raid on both. I’m actually pretty excited about this because while it won’t be the same as DPSing on Nehmen, I’d be playing my mage Feuere for the second raid, meaning I’d get both the tanking and DPS perspectives of the new cata raids. The challenge, of course, becomes finding times that work for both without conflicting with one another.

The ultimate goal of having these two raids is to provide in-guild raiding opportunities for more of our members while doing our level headed best to avoid “burning out.” To accomplish this, I believe we’re going to shorten our usual raid time of 4 1/2 hours (6:30-11pm) down to something closer to 2 1/2 hours (8:30-11pm). In the past, we’ve found that raid productivity tends to decline towards the latter hours of the raid from progression wipes and/or sitting in one place for that long, so if we can maintain a decent rate of progression with shorter hours, then why bother holding longer, tedious raids? Also, most time conflicts that members run into tend to occur earlier in the evening (“my folks wanted to have dinner,” “work got off late,” “traffic was horrible,” “I had a ridiculous amount of homework,” etc), so starting later may help avoid those.

I’ll let you know if this ends up working out, and if we had to make any changes to find success with the raid structure/scheduling.